NEW YORK – As President Obama prepares to deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday evening, powerful groups in the Democratic Party base are organizing to oppose “fast track” authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping free-trade agreement the Obama administration is ready to push through Congress.
On Monday, an impressive group of 564 political analysts from labor, environmental, family-farm and community organizations sent Obama a strongly worded letter to the White House arguing that pushing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, undermines the president’s message on income inequality.
“President Obama can’t have it both ways,” Arthur Stamoulis, the spokesman for Citizens Trade Campaign, the group organizing the letter, told WND. “Either the president is for reducing income eligibility as we expect he will say in the State of the Union address, or he can push for fast-track legislation on the job-destroying TPP free-trade agreement. He can’t have it both ways.”
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The TPP is the first part of a two-ocean globalist plan the Obama administration is working quietly to put into place. The aim is to follow up the passage of the TPP with the finalization of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the United States and the European Union.
As WND reported, Obama announced in his 2013 State of the Union address the plan to add the trans-Pacific free-trade agreement to the trans-Atlantic agreement already in place.
“Fast-track” authority would allow the Obama administration to ram the TPP through Congress with a simple majority vote. The rules would limit debate so that no amendments could be introduced to modify the language of the agreement the Obama administration has negotiated behind closed doors.
Meanwhile, the power of the punch the Citizens Trade Campaign plans to deliver the White House can be seen by the letter’s signatories.
They include labor unions such as the AFL-CIO; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); American Federation of Teachers; International Brotherhood of Teamsters; United Autoworkers (UAW); United Brotherhood of Carpenters; United Steelworkers (USW); and Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
Among the environmental organizations are 350.org, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, League of Conservation Voters, National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Rainforest Action Network and the Sierra Club.
Family farm organizations include the National Family Farm Coalition, National Farmers Union and the Western Organization of Resource Councils. Consumer groups include Food & Water Watch, Organic Consumers Association, National Consumers League and Public Citizen.
“Income inequality and long-term unemployment are serious problems that the job-killing TPP would only worsen,” Stamoulis said.
He said calling for fast-track authority in the State of the Union address Tuesday night “would undercut positive proposals to battle growing income inequality and create middle class jobs which are expected to be the central focus of the president’s speech.”
“As short-sighted as such a call would be, even more short-sighted would be for Congress members on either side of the aisle to answer it, as they’re the ones who would be dealing with the political repercussions this November,” Stamoulis said.
On Wednesday, another group opposed to TPP, the U.S. Business & Industry Council, plans to deliver the second punch in the one-two punch act by following up the State of the Union address with a national press conference revealing the results of a bipartisan national poll on TPP.
In an unusual move, two pollsters that usually do not work together, Democratic pollster Gary Molyneux of Hart Research and Republican pollster Bob Carpenter of Chesapeake Beach Consulting, have collaborated to take the poll and report the results.
While Eden Gorden, spokeswoman for the U.S. Business & Industry Council, would not say in advance precisely what the poll results will show, it’s likely that the majority of responders would oppose the TPP as a job-killing measure. Critics charge the Obama administration negotiated it in secret and is now trying to rush it through Congress before the American public finds out how the trade measure compromises U.S. sovereignty.
On Jan. 14, WND reported Republicans in the House are preparing to follow the lead of the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to rubber-stamp the TPP, the most sweeping free-trade agreement since NAFTA.
On Jan. 9, in a little-noticed statement, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont, together with ranking member Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., announced they were introducing “fast track” trade promotion authority.
The last line of congressional resistance to TPP appears to be coming from House Democrats concerned that more U.S. union jobs will be lost in the free-trade “fast track” steamroller Republicans under Boehner and Democrats aligning with Reid plan to run through Congress.
Last year, 151 House Democrats, led by Representatives Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and George Miller, D-Calif., opposed to TPP wrote a letter to President Obama stating their opposition to using “outdated ‘Fast Track’ procedures that usurp Congress’s authority over trade matters.”
With Boehner’s decision to support Obama on TPP, the Republican Party appears ready to ignore concerns raised by GOP conservatives and various tea-party groups that the 12-nation deal further undermines U.S. sovereignty. The opponents argue it places major sectors of the U.S. economy under a new dispute-regulation mechanism that takes precedence over U.S. judges and courts.
As WND has reported, “fast track authority,” a provision under the Trade Promotion Authority also has the function of reassuring foreign partners that the FTA negotiated by the executive branch will not be altered by Congress during the legislative process.
In his 2013 State of the Union address, Obama declared that to “boost American exports, support American jobs and level the playing field in the growing markets of Asia, we intend to complete negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
“And tonight,” he said, “I’m announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union – because trade that is fair and free across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs.”
The promise of creating new jobs drew congressional applause despite legitimate concerns that previous trade agreements, including NAFTA and U.S. participation in the World Trade Organization, have resulted in the loss of millions of high-salary U.S. jobs to nations with less expensive job markets.
The 12 nations involved in the TPP are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States.